An Honest Opinion On Marvel’s Secret Wars: Battleworld Announcements
Hang on for a roller coaster ride, because I am all over the place on how I feel about this week’s Marvel announcements. At this point, I assume that you know the basics of the whole thing. Jonathan Hickman. Esad Ribic. Battleworld. Warzones. Last Days. Let me walk through the whole thing and give one (older) reader’s thoughts and impressions. I am not going to try and say what this means for the business, Marvel’s profits, new reader uptake, and so forth. I am taking off my analyst’s hat today and just talking about this stuff as a fan.
The first thing that strikes me is the branding. I have not dug into every bit of detail available on this event; I actually like to try and stay a little insulated from the internet’s penchant for revealing everything about an upcoming bit of nerd content. So I am unclear why Marvel is resurrecting this branding from the 80’s unless it actually involves the Beyonder somehow. What I have seen seems to indicate that is not the case, so I am not sure why they would re-purpose the title. For someone who was an avid reader when the original Secret Wars and Secret Wars II was back then being published, the branding is not necessarily confusing, but it seems clunky and unnecessary.
Three cheers for Esad Ribic doing the art on this. I hope that he does all of the art on the core book and there are not artist’s pitching relief on pages here and there. Ribic’s run on Thor: god of Thunder is one of the best artistic runs in the last decade. I can think of few artists in Marvel’s bullpen who deserve the shot at pencils and paints on this event, if it is going to be the big thing that Brevoort and Alonso say that it is.
Impact and rehash. Here is where I have my largest misgivings. First off: Man! This sure does sound a lot like DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was also published in the 80s at the same time that the Secret Wars was going on. The copy on Secret Wars is that it will literally tear our planet, our political systems, and our cultures asunder. But one thing that both DC and Marvel have been having a huge problem with in the last 10 years is he whole “The more things change, the more they stay the same” issue. I think myself and probably a lot of other fans, have chosen to ignore events and issues that claim that something or someone is never going to be the same, because inevitably they always are. The same, I mean. I do not expect Wolverine to stay dead. I don’t expect Matt Murdock to stay in San Francisco. And, for the Secret Wars, I do not expect that Marvel will continue forward with a world that looks nothing like the current political system and culture once it is done.
I expect that there will be some interesting experiments while this whole event goes on, but in its wake, I expect the world to settle back to something that mirrors the present. 90% of all Marvel heroes will continue to operate out of New York. There will still be a bifurcation between Mutants and other heroes. And if so much is going to return to the norm, do I really need to read this? Do I need to read all of it, like some re-spawned nightmare of DC’s Blackest Night, which wended itself into a total of 79 issues?
The other reason I do not buy into this being an enduring cataclysmic shift is because Marvel has been setting up a lot of tight coupling between the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and what is going on in the comics. The MCU won’t be in a state to reflect what is being discussed in the Secret Wars until sometime after 2020. By the way, if Secret Wars impacts every hero and the entire world…ummm…what is it about them that makes them Secret?
So, yeah, overall maybe I am down on this and see Secret Wars as a negative. Maybe. I am actually not that far gone; the main thing is that I am just tired. I am weary from the past years of event-itis. I am tired of the story arcs that weave themselves across several books. It is not like it used to be, where an event was something that came along once, maybe twice a year. There is literally an event or two going on in both Marvel and DC at all times. It is the new norm. And it’s not cool. The big thing about this event from Marvel, is that it seems like all of the normal ongoings will have to pause so that the entire MU can be consumed by Secret Wars. So the tri-branding (Battleworld, Warzones, Last Days) seems like it will be on every book. For somewhere between four to eight months. It also looks like Secret Wars, at least Battleworld, is going to double-ship. Great.
There is a bit too much here that looks, sounds, and smells like retread territory. The Secret Wars brand name itself. The Crisis on Infinite Earths theme. It also sounds a lot like what is going on in DC’s Earth 2, Earth 2 World’s End, and New 52 Futures End…and I’ve mentioned what a load of poo I think that setup is. Right now, Marvel’s Secret Wars announcements leave me feeling like it is something I will need to ride through. A disruptive period that I will read dribs and drabs of, while remaining numbly aware of the rest. But I am not buying and reading more books just to make space for this. No way. With regards to my own pull-list, I see myself reading more Valiant, IDW, Image, Black Horse, and Boom! books until this dust settles. I like that they are going to pick up and carry through what has been going on in the Illuminati/New Avengers. But it’s just too much overall.
This is not me pre-hating something before I am even giving it a chance to release. This is me saying that the announcement just does not convince me that it is so appealing that I need to alter what I am doing with my pulls to accommodate this grand story. Is it really going to be revolutionary? Maybe. But I have enough doubt that I am content to read a few issues of it here and there, and if it is truly a redefining event, I can wait to grab it in trades. I am saturated with these events. I wish they would stop. I wish we could just have a focus on really great, tight, enduring runs of single-issue comics without the constant disruption. I get that is not the case. So, in the meanwhile, I’ll hold on to my butts. 2015 is likely to be a wild ride.